Horizon

This content is designed to highlight essential steps to be taken when planning, delivering and evaluating multi-partner, city-wide projects within the creative and cultural sector.

It is based on the learnings from Horizon, a collaborative programme of visual contemporary arts in Plymouth, that run from 2016 to 2018.

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Horizon was delivered by a partnership between Plymouth Culture, Plymouth University, Plymouth City Council, Plymouth College of Art, Plymouth Arts Centre, KARST and Visual Arts Plymouth, and funded through Arts Council England’s Ambition for Excellence fund.

The programme delivered four major arts events in the city, supported a talent development programme for artists and visual arts producers, and enabled communities to commission visual artworks.

The events were:

Plymouth Art Weekender

A free visual arts listings platform also including commissioned work in 2017 and 2018

We The People Are The Work

A multi-site exhibition exploring ideas of power, protest and the public in 2017

The Atlantic Project

A pilot for a new international festival of contemporary art in the South West of England, taking place in public contexts and outdoor locations in 2018

Talent Development programme

Supporting artists’ and arts leaders’ professional development through a series of skills workshops and open forums, mentoring scheme and research visits from 2017-18

Community Engagement programme

Developing new models of community commissioning and engagement from 2017-18

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PLANNING

Partnership Initiation
  • Ensure the project is arts/ideas led, not funding led.
  • A Sector led agency can play a key role as leader and coordinator of  all partners involved.
  • Develop a partnership out of need for collaboration not funding.
  • Understand and agree the skills each partner brings and who should be included and at what stage.
  • Communicate at all levels and stages of the project.
Defining the project and applying collectively for funds
  • Determine overall honest and realistic ambitions and make the application something that can actually be delivered with the resources available – make it grounded, be clear about its aims, objectives, and desired outcomes, remember to plan in evaluation.
  • Try to involve all partner and delivery organisations (as far as possible – some may come along later) in contributing to and signing off the application, also make use of specialist colleagues/expertise (eg marketing, fundraising, curation, community practice, evaluation) and ensure other key stakeholders are fully consulted and on board.
  • Baseline data is essential
  • Understand how the project contributes to wider partnership or city objectives
  • Stakeholder management : decide who you want to be involved – artists, audiences and participants – and plan in how to contact and care for those people and how to deliver that.
Community Engagement/ Talent Development Offers
  • Intentions, types and levels of community engagement and/or talent development programmes need to be discussed, agreed and clear between curators and those with direct responsibilities for community engagement.
  • To reach best results it is important to consider in what phase of the project the the community engagement programmes will start. It is recommended that it starts at the same time as the project’s activities
  • Have a legacy plan in place
Governance
  • Devise a fit for purpose governance and management structure that support co-owenership as well accountability to funders, with flexibility to meet project needs as they arise and facilitative leadership – distributed when possible – that supports wider sector capacity building and agency as well as specific project delivery.
  • Sharing of contacts across partnership for marketing purposes to create added value and coherent messaging
  • How to embed cross cutting themes – think about how marketing, talent development, community engagement (other relevant themes) can cut across all aspect of work rather than sitting separately 
  • Collaboration agreement – template but appropriate to scale and scope
  • Define Committee/steering group/working group structure
  • Project co-ordination and chairing are different roles so understand the remit of each 
  • Inappropriate hierarchy – don’t pigeon hole partners 
  • Understand where marketing sits at the strategic leadership level
Contracts

  • Ensure all contracts (for employment and services) and commissions accurately reflect the project and are scoped realistically in terms of the work required. Make recruitment and selection processes transparent, taking into account the impact on the local context.
  • How you involve external contractors to add value and capacity but not remove ownership
  • Briefing documents example of template to show scope of works and contract
  • Line and contract management are different and need to be clear
Sustainability
  • Exit plan and legacy needs to be considered from the outset 

Useful planning tools

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Delivery

Project Inception and induction

  • Hold a project inception and induction across the whole team – to reaffirm project aims, objectives and delivery; to check shared values; and to learn more about each others working contexts and practices. Proper preparation makes for the most effective delivery, as do planned reviews along the way.
  • Delivery plans – needs to reference to the original bid to ensure you achieve the outputs and impact but the details needs to show how
  • Ensure all stakeholders are on the same page and have shared ownership of the project
  • Recognise and value partner input even if in-kind and find a way to record and reference this – attach a cost/contribution to the input
  • Understand your reach and sphere of influence
Communications and Marketing

  • Establish a clear leadership for the communications implementation and include marketing staff from partners organisations in regular meetings to agree on the scope of work; events’ advanced notices; combined approach to media channels, same language tone
  • Combined marketing efforts including mailing lists sharing (according to Data Protection and GDPR) amongst all partners is essential to support joined-up audience development and participants engagement.
  • Once who you want to reach is defined, agree with all partners’ marketing teams how you will do this appropriately and how you will take care to ensure a positive, accessible (physically, intellectually etc) experience for people
  • Plan a cohesive audience and in kind data collection agreeing on unified criteria and documents forms be to used by all.
  • Develop one cohesive brand to be used across the project’s activities; to targeting marketing and communications towards specific audiences for each event.
  • Work alongside tourism bodies such as Destination Plymouth to integrate the event into the city’s events plan.
Project ongoing review

  • Support discourse, self and collective reflection throughout the project to support quality in what is delivered and how it is delivered, identifying and applying learning as appropriate. Heed learning from previous projects to avoid repeating the same mistakes and regretting missed opportunities.
  • Meeting structure – programme planning not just update
  • Create opportunity to reflect and adapt
  • Use meetings of partners to shape content not just review what has already happened
  • Carefully monitor finance and fully discuss any needs for budget changes to ensure no overall overspend
  • Always cascade information and decisions to relevant colleagues and contractors

EVALUATING

Impact

  • Be clear about the impact you want to make, putting in place appropriate documentation, monitoring and evaluation systems from the start so you can see how you-re doing: continually refer to the difference you want to make in terms of legacy to provide a collective check and challenge against key aims.
  • Marketing  – attracting the audience you want, sending the message you want to stakeholders
  • Who and how you want to reach – is it accessible for them
  • Evaluation planned from start, written into every aspect of project and role (toolkit)
Skills sharing
  • To help build infrastructure and take learning into new projects this should be incorporated into all projects